Standing in the Aftermath of Inigo Philbrick’s Art World Ponzi Scheme

He pleaded guilty to wire fraud last year

Inigo Philbrick
Inigo Philbrick and Francesca attend Chufy and Globe-Trotter Luggage Collaboration at Loukoumi Taverna on April 11, 2016 in Queens, NY.
Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

It’s only a matter of time before a prestige miniseries about Inigo Philbrick airs on some streaming service somewhere. Late last year, Philbrick pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, and is currently awaiting sentencing. The Madoff-esque Ponzi scheme he set up involved such things as selling the same works of art to multiple buyers — something that falls under the heading of “generally frowned upon” as well as the heading of “illegal.”

For those in his orbit, it sounds like a thrilling ride — right up until it came to an end and Philbrick became an international fugitive. Alternately? $86 million in wire fraud is not a small number.

Now, a new article by Joseph Bullmore at Air Mail offers both a succinct look at Philbrick’s case and the approach his legal team has taken in the hopes of getting a lenient sentence. This includes simultaneously arguing that Philbrick is actually a really nice, well-meaning guy — and that his moral character was inexorably corrupted by the flaws of the art world. You can see why this approach might inspire some skepticism.

The article abounds with resonant details of what it was like to be Inigo Philbrick at his peak — including his habit of shouting his own name in the shower to bolster his confidence, and wearing a sweatshirt with the same phrase on it. It also mentions that, among those he’s been charged with defrauding is the godfather of his child. As bad (and illegal) behavior goes, that is — as the saying goes — next-level.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.